"Your body loves you. Love it back."
How would you define your body? Our body can be a complex concept - think of the many functions it does in the background, pumping blood through your body, transforming oxygen, or processing your food for energy. While I am not an expert in physics, I do know that we can judge our body and treat our body without even noticing the effects. Nowadays, we seem to identify a lot with our body even if we think we don`t - "I look old today", "how can I hide my belly?", "those people are too fat / thin / ...", etc. etc. With this post, I want to share 3 ways to transform your relationship with your body that both your body and you deserve.
1. Notice your thoughts and beliefs you have around your body.
"Awareness precedes choice and choice precedes results." - Robin Sharma
The first step starts always with awareness (yes, mindfulness :)) - of your current views that you have around your body. When you look in the mirror - how does it make you feel? What thoughts immediately come up? Are you happy to see yourself or don`t even want to look in the mirror, esp. when you just woke up? Practicing awareness comes with no judgment - this means, even if you don`t like seeing yourself in the mirror, notice this sensation as "there is something that does not enjoy looking in the mirror" or "there is a thought thinking that my skin got older" or "there is no joy when I look in the mirror". Just check what is there - only if you know what is going on, you can then deal with it as a next step.
2. Put things into context - choose empowering beliefs around your body.
"Everything is created twice, first in the mind and then in reality." - Robin Sharma (yes, another Sharma quote :))
As we know, we are what we consume and who we are surrounded by. Consumption does not only cover food and drinks that we put into our body (although the topic is right), but also information, perceptions, and views of others - that is, (social) media and society. Why is it so hard to follow our knowledge deep inside that beauty is not always how celebrities look like? Because (1) media is an industry in its own and very good or even trained in creating perceptions for their own benefit, and not necessarily for the general welfare, and (2) because in us human beings we feel a sense of "not being good enough".
So "not being good enough" can look in very different ways, not only related to body / beauty - one (potentially without knowing) will aim to climb the career ladder as fast as they can; another one will aim to find their partner to know that they, too, are also loved. If we look deep, we may see there is a motivation behind a motivation. Now, this does not mean it is not worthwhile to strive for a fulfilling career or relationship - as long as we also nurture our own self-worth, the pursuit of our dreams will be truly fulfilling and sustainable. Back to our body discussion today - putting society`s views aside, deliberately undermine the voice in your head by e.g. changing:
"I look old today / my skin got older ..." - "I can see that my body needs a proper rest." or "My life is extending and growing, and my skin is protecting me from toxins."
"How can I hide my belly?" - "My belly is protecting my organs and the extra pound is a sign that I have extra energy in store."
"My feet are too big for a woman." - "My feet have been carrying my body throughout my entire life and allow me to run to a loved one, dance to music, or do my favorite exercise."
"I am too small and not masculine enough." - "I define my own masculinity and focus on where I can have a real impact."
All these examples are not sugar-coating, but inviting for different, true perspectives, that serve us well. Our body is not here to be beautiful, but to function as best as it can, so we can live an empowering life. Reminding us of this will create a tremendous change in how we see and treat our body.
3. Treat your body as your child - however the child feels, it will impact you.
"Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience." - Jon-Kabat Zinn
We can all recall those moments when we had a nourishing meal, maybe cooked by our mum, and we felt happy, satisfied, and yes, even loved. We can maybe also remember those moments when some food (or drinks) didn`t turn out so well and we suffered from stomachace, toilet runs, and outcry that we will never eat / drink this (much) again. These effects show us that body and mind are symbiotic - if our body feels good, we feel good. If we feel bad, our body will make us feel bad. This knowledge has several important implications:
Get up, dress up, and show up: Although we do have those days when we just need to cuddle in our bed and be best friends with Netflix, sometimes what we (and our body) just need is a kick in our ... energy - by getting and dressing up. Take your favorite clothes (even if you wore them yesterday) and I can ensure you (as long as it is not a severe sickness we are talking about here) this can have a magic effect. Same, of course, goes with physical exercise - such as going for a run, dancing to your favorite song, or stretching your back with free Yoga Youtube videos.
Fashion is not superficial: A documentary about Anna Wintour opened with her saying that people tend to judge fashion for e.g. being superficial, but one cannot deny that when you dress well, you also feel good about yourself. Thus, what you wear has an impact - even if you decide to wear the same shirt as Steve Jobs (as this made him more focused on what really mattered to him). So invest in clothes that make you feel well (quality over quantity) and not what currently is in fashion, which may not support your body type or personality.
Nevertheless, beauty comes from the inside: How we feel and think will be encouraged by our body. If we feel sad (even for valid reasons), our body will find more reasons to help you feel this way. Try this - whether you are thinking of your happiest moment or the last heartbreaking experience, you will immediately feel the emotions. Thus, our mind is a powerful tool that we can use - and here we are again, everything starts within, with us. Know that your worth comes only from inside, no matter how people react to you (or not). People`s reactions are often based on their preferences, which themselves are based on society`s perceptions, which themselves are based on making a profit or gaining an own benefit, that has nothing to do with you. Focusing on others` perceptions can be also exhausting, so focus on what you can control - your mind and body. So again, choose kindness and compassion for yourself - whenever you don`t feel beautiful, sexy, confident (and who says that you should feel this way 24/7/360?), just tell yourself "however I feel, I am good enough". Be patient, this may be a lifelong, but transforming journey.
Last but not least, listen to your body: Because of this symbiotic relationship between your body and mind (and soul), your body gives you cues on how you truly feel, that you may have overseen. For example, you may think everything is working well, you have everything under control, you also feel relatively happy and content, but then you suddenly see in the mirror dark shadows under your eyes, maybe even that your skin has worsened. Instead of either ignoring it or (for the girls) put more make-up on, look closely, even if this is not comfortable. Be kind and honest with yourself - this may be a valuable piece of information that you have not slept well or long enough, that you are tired of all the things you are (temporarily / unsustainably) juggling, that you have been not listening enough to what your body needs. So we can be grateful for our body giving us signs as sometimes we put things aside - and, of course, if there are more severe, repating symptoms, we may consult with an expert doctor.
This is a call to embrace, love, and appreciate our body - however our body looks like, however different it is from others, however you may currently feel in your body. I once listened to a podcast episode of Oprah`s SuperSoul conversations which said that a doctor would also not judge a body whether it is beautiful, but look into the functions - and to them, all bodies are treated the same. Meaning, we are actually the same, and also not the same - I leave it to you to think about it! :)
How is your relationship with your body? Let me know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org – I would be very keen to hear your views! :) PS: Subscribe to my Newsletter to stay in touch for any upcoming posts and news :)
This week`s ...
Inspiration: Marie Forleo - Everything is Figureoutable
Reflection: What are your current beliefs around your body?
Intention: Give thanks to your body on how it supports you every day. Try either not to judge your body or as a first step, notice when you do (without judging yourself, be kind :)).